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Rape Is the Issue, Not Race

Warning: This article discusses rape.

Rape should never be a political issue. Regardless of where your political beliefs lie, I think we can all agree that rape is a horrifying occurrence that no one should ever experience.

Unfortunately, on average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. And at a high school that is less than 10 miles away from my own, another girl was added to this statistic. A 14-year-old girl was raped March 16 at Rockville High School in Rockville, MD during the school day. She was pulled into the boy’s bathroom and was brutally attacked by 2 older boys.

She is Latina, as are the two assailants who raped her. One of the rapists, Henry E. Sanchez Milian, 18, illegally immigrated to the U.S. from Honduras seven months ago. However, the immigration status of her other rapist, Jose O. Montano, 17, is unknown.

As soon as this news broke, I was shocked. The amount of hurt and fear I felt for this girl can not be described in words. I was focused on the pain that she went through, and how hard it must have been for her to report her rape. I was floored at how easily this could have happened to myself, or any girl for that matter. I was in disbelief that something like this could happen to someone so young, especially during school hours.

With all of these thoughts were running through my mind, the absolute last thing that I was focusing on were whether this girl’s rapists were in this country legally or not. But to many others, this fact seemed to be more important than the rape itself. 

#RockvilleRape was trending on Twitter, and the tweets filed under it were disgusting. The tag is filled with conservatives decrying liberals for supposedly protecting the rapists because they were illegal immigrants. Tweets from that tag also stated liberals only pay attention to rape and cry “rape culture” when it benefits them.

It is shameful that this rape was used as a political tool. From Sean Spicer using this crime as a way to justify Trump’s immigration policy to the horrifying tweets under the aforementioned hashtag, conservative figureheads seemed to delight in the fact that this case supported their immigration stances. But it is wrong to focus on the race or immigration status of these attackers; the main thing that we should be concerned about is the fact that they raped someone.

Let me say it loud and clear: it does not matter where the girl’s rapists came from or what race they are. Rape is rape; whether committed by an illegal immigrant or a white fraternity boy in college.

By saying that this case is about the actual crime committed instead of the race of the perpetrators is not defending the rapists; it actually condemns them while focusing on the issue at hand.

Rape is the issue, not race. One in four women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Instead of focusing on where the perpetrator came from, or if they were legal, let’s focus on the true issue of rape and sexual assault, and finding ways to decrease them.

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